National Lampoon’s Vacation was a big hit, so it was only a matter of time before the sequels started coming thick and fast. While many carry a torch for Christmas Vacation, we think that in European Vacation was still a great entry in the series.
The film sees the Griswolds travel around Europe after winning a trip to see France, German, Britain and more. Let’s take a look back at this classic comedy with some fun facts you might not have known…
10. Both siblings were recast after Anthony Michael Hall chose to star in Weird Science instead
Anthony Michael Hall was offered the chance to reprise his role as Griswold son Rusty for European Vacation, but the up-and-coming star had also offered a leading role in the iconic teen sci-fi comedy Weird Science. However, because Hall went elsewhere, the producers decided that both kids should be re-cast.
For this reason, Dana Barron was not asked to reprise her role of Audrey. Coincidentally, she was replaced by an actress with the same first name, Dana Hill.
9. There’s a nod to Monty Python and the Holy Grail
In one scene, Chevy Chase hits Eric Idle’s character whilst he is riding a bike and Idle responds with, “It’s just a flesh wound!” If you recognise the line, that’s because it comes from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, in which King Arthur lops off the limbs of the Black Knight, who refuses to surrender.
However, while Eric Idle was one of the members of Monty Python, he was not in that specific scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which actually featured Graham Chapman and John Cleese.
8. Eric Idle and Chevy Chase planned an Australian Vacation sequel
Following filming on European Vacation, Chevy Chase and Eric Idle had formed a good working and personal friendship and conceived of another globetrotting sequel: National Lampoon’s Australian Vacation.
Whilst trying to work on their new film, however, Chevy Chase and Eric Idle only managed a few shark-related gags and couldn’t make a full working idea for a film, so the project was shelved.
7. Dana Hill couldn’t swallow the food in her nightmare scene
In one scene, Audrey has a nightmare in which she is devouring food. However, Dana Hill had Type I diabetes and had to avoid swallowing the food she was supposed to be eating, as it could have easily proved deadly to her.
Hill’s illness inhibited her growth, enabling her to play a young teen in the movie even though she was 21 at the time. Tragically, diabetes would ultimately lead to her death in 1996, when she was just 32.
6. John Hughes receives screenwriting credit, but didn’t actually write the film
The original Vacation, as well as subsequent third film Christmas Vacation, were based on short stories written by John Hughes for National Lampoon magazine, and the screenplays were written by Hughes himself. However, while Hughes receives screen credit, he didn’t actually write the screenplay for European Vacation.
Like Anthony Michael Hall, Hughes was busy making Weird Science at the time. Instead, the European Vacation script was primarily the work of Robert Klane (writer of The Man with One Red Shoe and the Weekend at Bernie’s movies).
5. Chase feuded with Heckerling on-set
Chevy Chase has said since the film’s release that he and director Amy Heckerling did not get along well during the production of the film. This isn’t honestly a great surprise, as it seems that almost everyone who’s ever worked with Chase has feuded with him.
Heckerling, who broke through by directing Cameron Crowe’s Fast Times and Ridgemont High, went on to direct the Look Who’s Talking films and Clueless.
4. Harold Ramis was meant to direct
People often forget that 80s comedy legend Harold Ramis started out his career behind the camera – notably, as co-writer of National Lampoon’s Animal House and director of National Lampoon’s Vacation. Ramis was the first person asked to direct European Vacation, but had to pass as he was busy co-writing and co-starring in a little movie called Ghostbusters.
Some supporting roles aside, Ramis would go on to enjoy his greatest success as a director in the 90s, most famously with Groundhog Day, Analyze This and Bedazzled.
3. Rowan Atkinson could have starred as the hotel manager
Rowan Atkinson, now best known for his terse, goofy turn as Mr Bean, was almost given the role of the hotel manager. Instead, the role was given to his significantly less prim, Not the Nine O’Clock News co-worker, Mel Smith.
Coincidentally, Atkinson would go on to play the hotel manager in 1990’s The Witches, showing that British people will inevitably be typecast as middle management.
2. Chevy Chase used his own video camera
National Lampoon’s European Vacation had a fairly sizable budget for a family comedy, coming in at $17 million – but even with that sort of pecuniary firepower, the video camera used by Clark Griswold is Chevy Chase’s own.
Hopefully he didn’t actually film Beverley D’Angelo in a compromising position, as per the events of the movie! (Although as this sequel was a PG-13, the bathroom scene was less explicit than that of the original Vacation.)
1. The family name is spelled differently than in all other Lampoon films
In European Vacation, the family name is Griswald, whereas in the other films in the National Lampoon’s Vacation series, it is Griswold with an ‘o’ – which is correct?
It’s only a minor detail, but perhaps this small error is further evidence that John Hughes had no input on the film.